According to Epstein, intentional teaching can be defined as the ability to always think about what we are doing and how it will foster children's development and produce real and lasting learning.
And though it may seem to be a trend-setting headline in early childhood education, it does extend beyond teaching. For a co-learner, intentional teaching is about building an awareness of young children. It entails:
• How do they develop emotionally & cognitively?
• What are the environments to promote opportunities to engage & challenged them?
Many co-learners view intentional teaching as teacher-directed learning or as a way for adults to infringe on children's right to free play. But intentional teaching is way different. The most important aspect of this teaching method is building relationships with the children, families, and teaching staff.
• Getting to know children
• Adjusting as needed as time progresses
• Change to meet these demands
• Include parents in discussions and interaction
• Engage in ongoing conversations/communication
The role of play-based learning
The intentional teachers are passionate advocates for children's rights to free play. Yes, some teachers have a pedagogy that is play-based and child-led? In the efforts to emphasize the importance of child-led learning through free play, teachers can devalue the teacher role. Often, they become afraid to admit what they are, in fact, teaching.
Both these aspects are equally important, so the teachers should allow children time and space to play freely. All of these interactions with the environment and playing should be intentional.
The importance of classroom
Equally important to the teacher's pedagogy is the classroom, which is a great place to come and learn. It is here that students learn about being independent in caring for their needs. The co-learner should use the classroom as a tool where children can be exposed to new concepts and information in relation to their knowledge.
This can be done by making a classroom that is engaging and filled with spaces freely explores the setting. It should have:
• Space for children to move around freely
• A limited number of children
• Visual cues that tell children what to do
• A room to interact and play
According to Ann Epstein, "all this does not happen by accident." Intentional learning is a teacher's commitment to building a program through an understanding of growth and developmental needs. And this is a work in progress that happens daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.
Mindful co-learners should intentionally interact with children in a respectful, reciprocal manner. This helps value relationships and know that children learn best.
The co-learners have to:
• Make decisions from their values and beliefs on what they think, and feel is best for children and their learning.
• Draw and get inspiration from the work of theorists
• Intentionally engage in training and professional development
• Adapt teaching in order to create the best possible outcomes
"Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water." Loris Malaguzzi.
• Teachers should be mindful of their attitudes, mindset, triggers and emotional states
• How this impacts the emotional, intrinsic make-up of the environment
• They should be curious and courageous to challenge themselves
• They should challenge the status quo and always be ready to learn
• Be intentional with what they are communicating and how they are communicating
• Take time to authentically and sensitively observe children
• Use these observations to unpack the learning and intentionally plan provocations for learning
• Remain curious about finding out more
Intentional co-learners should facilitate and support children's learning by providing learning opportunities and resources that ignite curiosity, create wonder, foster autonomy, allow the agency and encourage mastery.